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How To Build A Great Employee Brand On Social Media
Getting your employees to become storytellers and growth drivers in your social media efforts is one surefire way to see consistent growth for your customer base. But the growth mindset has to be baked into your overall strategy — turning to it as a panacea for any business ills isn’t going to get you very far.
In this article, we’ll teach you what you need to do to get your employees on board with social media. Not only that, we’ll show you how to get your team invested in becoming advocates not just for your brand, but for their own as well.
Source: Starbucks Partners
If you’re reading this blog, then you’ve already bought into the growth mindset. That’s good. That’s your first step to creating the kind of environment that excels at delivering value to customers and, eventually, results in massive growth rates for your business. But this approach isn’t without caveats.
While it’s tempting to think of growth as the end-all-be-all answer to success, you need to back up that growth with a solid business strategy, clearly defined goals, as well as a well-prepared and competent team to help you execute.
Instead of treating growth as a shortcut that allows you to skip past the difficult parts of running the business, it needs to be an integral part of your plan from the ground up. With that idea in place, everything should come together to form a cohesive whole that drives your growth instead of stunting it.
What you’ll learn in this post…
This post is intended to be one piece of the puzzle to help you on your way to success, but we think it can be a vitally important one. Your relationship to your customers is, for all intents and purposes, the bone-deep core of marketing. Building that relationship is exactly what all these marketing efforts are for. And one often-overlooked interface for that relationship is your employees and their own social media.
Social media employee advocacy is the next big thing — while you can create exciting content for your business and push it as hard as you like, users are still 8 times more likely to engage with actual people than with a company page. Click To Tweet
Social media employee advocacy is the next big thing — while you can create exciting content for your business and push it as hard as you like, users are still much more likely to engage with actual people with faces and names rather than with a company page. Content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement of content shared on brand channels.
So how do we do it? Your employees are not a monolith — or at least, they can’t be if you’re planning to create a growth environment. How do we get a diverse set of highly-motivated and unique individuals to share your business content on social media? How do we ensure that every interaction through your employees builds trust and social proof?
Part 1: Giving your employees a reason to share
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Electronic Arts shares quotes from its employees for International Women’s Day 2019 Your first hurdle is actually producing the content for your employees to share on social media. Of course, not everyone is going to want to share the exact same thing. You need a diverse set of content that’s interesting and engaging for a wide audience. Your first critics are going to be your employees! That being said, there’s a couple of almost surefire types of content that employees love. If you were looking for a shortcut, this is as close as you’re going to get.
Put your employees first
People absolutely love to see their own names up in lights. Content about your employees and their opinions, personalities, and challenges is an almost guaranteed share. Events such as International Women’s Day can provide a venue for your employees to come together and tell their own stories, humanizing your brand and ultimately making it easier for your customers to identify with you. There’s no need to wait for holidays or the like—something like a meet-the-employee type of feature once in a while is simple to produce but nets more engagement and reshares than most branded content.
Special events and parties are always popular
Company parties and get-togethers are no longer the stuffy, boring affairs of the past. Depending on your business and your clientele, company events and conferences can be as extravagant and luxurious as a night out at the best clubs. It’s these kinds of special experiences that employees love to share because it’s more off-the-cuff and shows the fun side of working at your company. So long as everything fits your social media guidelines (which we’ll talk about later), then your employees should be free to share and spread your pictures and videos. @theplayngo sharing their employees having a good time in the sun—immediately reshareable because of a strong visual aesthetic
Your employees will have a better idea of the kind of content that works on their networks. Enlist their help! This goes not just for brainstorming what your company should produce, but what they produce as well. Invite subject matter experts to write blogs, produce videos, or create educational material. Attaching their name to the content gives them all the incentive they need to share and spread it around to everyone they know. Everyone loves being acknowledged and appreciated for their expertise! This type of content, in particular, can enrich not just your brand’s social proof, but also your employee’s personal brand. And that brings us to our next point…
Part 2: Teach your employees about their personal branding
We tend to take it for granted that everyone is already knowledgeable about social media mores and norms, but let’s not forget that social media is still a relatively new phenomenon.
Marketing and social media go hand-in-hand nowadays, but your employees aren’t all going to be marketing professionals. While we might live and breathe on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because we have to, others may have only an Instagram account or a Snapchat account — or may not have any social media at all. That being said, it behooves us to help our employees become social media savvy.
This isn’t just so that we can encourage them to share our content, but because it’s a great way for them to increase their digital footprint. Teaching them about things like growing their own Instagram brand doesn’t just help your company, it also creates an opportunity for your employees to engage in spirited, meaningful discussion with their peers that they might not have reached without the help of social media.
The more of your employees become leaders in their chosen fields, the better it is for everyone — for them, for your brand, and for the people they engage with. While some of your employees will be intrigued, even excited about this opportunity to create a real name for themselves, others will be content to use social media as a professional tool and to build their own personal networks. That’s fine as well!
All you have to really do is to educate your employees about the potential benefits for them and allow them to move in whatever direction suits them best.
Part 3: Make sharing easy and your guidelines unambiguous
Starbucks has a great, well-written set of social media guidelines.
If your employees have to jump through hoops or get approval from three higher-ups before they can post company content, they’re simply not going to bother eventually. Making sharing your brand’s content as frictionless as possible is of paramount importance if you’re going to get anyone on board with becoming an employee advocate.
There are many available tools to make this easier, such as internal content hubs, so finding one that works for your team and for your strategies shouldn’t be too difficult. If you opt not to use one of these tools, something as simple as an internal email blast can bring everyone on to the same page as to what new content you have available for sharing.
Hand-in-hand with this are your own set of social media guidelines. It’s easy to overwrite these guidelines in an effort to protect your brand’s image and reputation. While that’s perfectly understandable, heavily restrictive social media policies can make it unappealing for employees to even participate, as taking away their own freedom of expression can end up feeling oppressive.
Going so far as to dictate approved phrases or copy can even backfire — creating the image of a monolith that isn’t desirable at all. Some employees will decline to share because the content doesn’t fit on their social networks. Some people also simply do not like mixing personal and professional matters on their social media.
If you want authenticity and social proof, then social media posting should be opt-in. Let those who are enthusiastic about content drive it on their own social media profiles. A good resource are Starbucks social media guidelines which adopt a lighter touch—with more specificity about what not to do rather than what employees should do.
Part 4: Allow employees to drive your advocacy
Reading Time: 5 minutesLululemon allowing its employees to take the wheel for social media engagement
While you’re going to have social media guidelines from the beginning, it’s also important that you be open to change. Employee advocate feedback is critical to improving your policies, content, and even your overall social media marketing strategy. While it may be trivial to say that you’re going to listen to feedback, actually collecting and making sense of all of it across all departments and enterprises in an organization is a pretty daunting task.
Collaborative tools such as Slack can help, especially when your team is remote, but a workable low-tech solution is simply having a regularly-scheduled open forum for employee advocates to voice their concerns, share their observations, and let you know what kind of content works and what doesn’t.
Your employees are the ones who best understand their personal social networks, and as such will know what posts are popular or not. This kind of deep knowledge isn’t something that you can easily gain with a brand’s social media page. Taking that kind of data and using it to drive customer engagement is no easy task, but with the help of your employee advocates and progressively improving your content, it’s definitely possible.
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Natasha Ponomaroff is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating toolkit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of “creatives” who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.
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